Space Sunday: China’s ambitions, Dawn’s success and Kepler’s return

Inara Pey: Living in a Modem World

China's space station, as it should look in 2022 (credit: China Manned Space Engineering) China’s space station, as it should look in 2022 (credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

China has confirmed a series of ambitious new goals for its growing space endeavours, starting with the launch later this year of a new orbital facility, and progressing through 2018 with the launch of the core module for a large-scale space station, and which includes further mission to the Moon and to Mars.

The first orbital facility launched by China, Tiangong-1 (“Heavenly Palace-1”), was launched in 2011. Referred to as a “space station”, the unit was more a demonstration test-bed for orbital rendezvous and docking capabilities. While it was visited by two crews in 2012 and 2013, neither stayed longer than 14 days, and sinc 2013,  Tiangong-1 has operated autonomously, although it has suffered a series of telemetry failures in that time.

A model of Tiangong-2, which will be 14.4 metres (47 ft) in length, 4.2 metres (14 ft) in diameter and mass 20 tonnes, seen docked with a crewed Shenzhou ("Divine Craft") orbital vehicle on the left (Credit: unknown originating source) A model of Tiangong-2, which will be 14.4 metres (47 ft) in length, 4.2…

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